Jeakson Singh Thounaojam walked his way into the record books when he netted India's first World Cup goal at the 82nd minute of the FIFA U-17 match against Colombia Monday. A minute later, India conceded another goal and the game, but that takes nothing away from the spirited performance of the Indian Colts or the lanky midfielder.
Tuesday morning was therefore dedicated to frantic searches on Google about Jeakson and it threw up many a result, including the tale of a Manipuri lad who fought poverty and swallowed many rejections before he could play at the highest level.
Jeakson's mother sells vegetables to keep the hearth burning after his father, a former Manipuri cop, had to leave his profession when he suffered a stroke.
However, the poor background not withstanding, football frenzy runs high in the family - Jeakson's elder brother, plays for Peerless Club in the Kolkata Premier League; while Amarjit Singh Kiyam, the skipper of India's Under-17 team, is his cousin.
The teenage Jeakson too left home in Thoubal for Chandigarh, where he trained at the Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA).
During the Chandigarh trials for the national football team about two years ago, he was left out – allegedly because the 6-foot Manipuri lad was considered to be too tall! He didn't lose heart, but shifted to Minerva Punjab FC Academy, where he continued to work hard and finally proved his mettle when his team defeated a highly rated Goan team in a friendly last April. He along with three other players from Minerva booked their FIFA berth.
And he justified his selection by coming up with his best performance for his country Monday.
Trivia about Jeakson Thounaojam
• Jeakson Thounaojam: India’s first World Cup scorer
• Hometown: Thoubal, Manipur
• Playing position: midfielder
• Jeakson prefers 'Jackson' on his T-shirt with the number 15